App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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Symmetry School: Learning Geometry is an app for iPad that helps children understand the principles of symmetry in this engrossing interactive app.
Both reflective and rotational symmetry are touched upon here as children drag differently colored geometric shapes onto a grid that needs to be filled in accordingly. Three levels of difficulty are included for both the reflective and rotational sections of this app.
Children will have the easiest time starting to explore this app with the reflective section as this is symmetry they may find familiar such as in a mirror image, looking at the details of butterfly wings, or creating Rorschach-like art by adding paint to a folded piece of paper and distributing color equally between both halves.
The first section of this app includes one line of symmetry down the center of the screen. Add the shapes to complete the pattern created on the other side of this page.
On the medium level, two lines of symmetry are included as if this piece of paper had been folded in half and then again in quarters, making the symmetry more complex. Later in the difficult section of this app, children will need to complete these four quarters; rotating pieces such as triangles or pentagrams as well as adding their own pieces in a symmetrical way to personalize this experience, and adding their own creative touches while keeping the rules of symmetry in mind.
Rotational Symmetry is also taught in much the same way as the easy section. Here, one starts with four quadrants that need to be completed.
Early on the patterns in the Rotational Symmetry are simple, and a completed puzzle may remind children of the four blades of a pinwheel. The medium and difficult sections become more difficult, concluding with the need to rotate pieces as well as adding one’s own pieces to this puzzle, making this last section both creative and challenging.
If need be, rotating the iPad 90 degrees while working in the rotation section greatly helps visualize what needs to be done - a trick worth noting.
I appreciate that the easy sections include a Show Me section that allows players to see the answer momentarily, allowing them a glimpse before completing these areas on their own. It would be nice, however, if the more difficult sections included the option of this hint as well, possibly quite helpful in some settings. In other arenas such as school, I would love to see this cheat may be used or not at the discretion of a teacher, who can also be emailed completed pages as part of an activity - a nice touch. Also admirable is the inclusion of the written instructions in languages other than English.
This app does a great job of engaging users as they use their brain power to figure these puzzles out - skills that may come in handy while studying geometry as well as simply working with building toys where symmetry is needed for stability.
My five year old son has enjoyed the early sections of this app, and I can see older grade school students through adults immerse themselves in this app as well.
I can easily see this app used in both home as well as educational settings by adults in order to relax.
It is worth noting that the number of moves it takes for a player to complete a pattern is recorded as a kind of score to be compared to the best possible number of moves; great for some as a form of motivation, but my son found this distracting as it took him time time to place the shapes in the correct places. It would be nice if this element was optional if some users prefer.
From what I can tell, each new section is created randomly to create a multitude of re-play - another great reason to recommend Symmetry School: Learning Geometry.